[Spellyans] Rules for the apostrophe

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed May 19 13:20:42 BST 2010

On 18 May 2010, at 19:00, Craig Weatherhill wrote:

> I won't do any service by not voicing concerns, but the introduction of initial I for Y in some words makes me uncomfortable.

You need to understand why.

1. Jenner used i and î and y and ŷ phonetically, and distributed them on that basis.

2. Nance ditched i entirely, whether to avoid having to deal with working out a means to distribute i and y, or because he preferred the more medieval look of y.

3. George considered i and y to represent different phonemes in stressed syllables, and distributed i and y elsewhere according to his etymological theories (so we have kegin and molin because of Latin cucina and molina, burdening the user with remembering his Latin to get the spelling right. 

4. Williams re-introduced i in UCR in some Latin loanwords but there was no real systematicness to it otherwise.

5. KS1 and KD made some proposals.

6. The SWF specifies the use of i and y in stressed monosyllables and their derivatives (though it fails to distinguish short y and long ÿ in stressed monosyllables). It specifies that -i or -ei be used in monosyllables, and permits either -i or -y in polysyllables. It gives no other guidance to the user as to how to choose i or y in any other environment.

7. KS is the only orthography that offers clear rules for the distribution of i and y. These are:

7a. Use i- in initial position in all but 6 words.
7b. Use i for [iː] and y for [ɪ] in monosyllables and their derivatives.
7c. Use î for [iː] and y for [ɪ] in non-initial and non-final position in other polysyllables.
7d. Use -y in final position.

Those rules are pretty simple. No other orthography but Jenner's have rules at all for distributing i and y (Nance's omitting i entirely doesn't count, an in any case is incompatible with the use of i and y in the SWF.)

One of the reasons we chose 7a is the dislike many RLC users have for the perceived "medievalness" of the letter y. Since RLC users get very little graphic familiarity in the SWF it seemed an appropriate concession to make. 

> KS1 had to be adjusted to cope with the limitations placed on it by the SWF, but I feel that we've gone too far.

"Too far"? What is not too far? If you do not like i- your choice is y-. Is that "better"? Initial i- is very well attested in the corpus. There's nothing inauthentic about it. If you're not used to it, it's only because Nance didn't use the letter i at all.

You ought to be a bit used to it by now; after all these rules are implemented in Jowal Lethesow. They are good, simple, robust rules, easily taught, and easily learnt. Once you learn them, you know how to spell.

> Overall, KS is fine BUT we mustn't kid ourselves that it will replace the SWF in 3 years time.  It won't.  It can't.

You've got a crystal ball, have you? You know who will be invited to the 2013 conference? You know who will attend? Who will refuse to attend? Who will be refused permission to attend?

I don't know these things. What I do know is that there are linguistic flaws in the SWF which make it insupportable for academic approval and unsuitable for publishing literature. I also know that those flaws are easily corrected. We have corrected them.

> There is far too much opposition out there for that ever to happen and, if we don't start publishing in SWF/T as well, the move will be to dismiss it because no one is visibly using it.

I for my part am not afraid of the Kesva. They aren't producing anything, in SWF/M or even in KK for  that matter. 

THe 220,000 words we have published since January 2009 are all using /T forms, not /K forms. Our orthography is not UC or UCR or RLC or KK. It is a direct response to the SWF/T which was supposedly created to support our aesthetic. It forces us to use inauthentic graphs, however, so it fails there. But the fact that we are using /T forms and not /K forms cannot be denied.

> This will then open the door for the return of KK to "correct" SWF/M.

This will not succeed. 

Please recall that Nicholas and I co-edited SWF/T and SWF/M editions of Skeul an Tavas. 

> I'm having enough problems with the pressure to use SWF/M graphs in place-names, and the apparent desire to sideline SWF/T as far as they're able.

Well, for my part I am publishing with Traditional graphs and not with Kebmyn graphs.

> We fell for this sort of thing 25 years ago and we'd all be bloody fools not to be aware of intentions now, and do what is necessary to thwart them. Publishing in KS alone won't do this.

Evertype publications are funded by Evertype. If the SWF/T isn't accurate and contains the faults which it does, why should I spend money to publish in it? The Kesva hasn't been publishing much of anything in SWF/K. Hardly anything of any quality has been published in SWF of any kind, in fact. A story about a starfish? A puppy? A reprint of some songbook? A colouring book?

It's a far cry from a quarter of a million words, don't you think?

> KS will most certainly inform the corrections to be undertaken in 2013, and I feel that this aim is what we should be concentrating on.

There is no 2013 mechanism defined. The arguments about what corrections

But you know what, Craig? One of the things that the Spellyans effort could use is support. Is it a good orthography? Use it. Is it a better orthography than the SWF? Use it. 

I know: only Skeul an Tavas (KS) is out so far. Eddie is impatient about it, but we are being careful, trying to work out what needs to be done to edge cases. Most of those are polysyllabic loanwords with long vowels in unexpected positions. Nicholas and I, and some other linguistically astute external readers, are working to make sure that what we put forward is accurate, traditional, and useful. 

But when it does come out, people will have to decide whether to support it or not. Right now, the Revival is not really going anywhere. One of my correspondants wrote recently:

> "Authority" is the word. The whole project is about control and administrative process at the expense of participation, collective ownership and good Cornish. The Cornish revival has not just stalled, it has gone into reverse. Authority began with Nance, leading to the imposed "authority" of the editor of An Gannas and of the Kesvapo in the 80s, followed by MAGA.

From the perspective of KS, all we as linguists can do is our best. To do less than our best would be to insult the language. We'll put it out there. If people say "Holy heck, this is a great orthography!" then they should use it. If people want linguistically weak Council Cornish, then the current SWF is probably suitable. I can't make that choice for any of you, teachers or learners. All I can do is my best.

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/

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